1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Anyone have advice about the Jam Band scene?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Funkee1, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. Funkee1


    Jul 19, 2002
    I have had a hard time categorizing my band, The New Breed, when people ask. I think I have finally figured it out: we're a JAm band!!
    Now I want to find out about this alien world. I thought Jam bands were only Grateful Dead knockoffs, or hippie things, but I am finding out that it is a huge, multilevel thing, and that true JAm fans really like to discover new bands.

    Anyone have any advice how to introduce ourselves to that market?

    Should I buy a Hemp shirt, and get a hacky sack?
  2. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Same as everything else... advertise, promote your shows and your music anytime you can.

    I don't think you'd need to dress or act the part - IME, in the jam-band scene look is generally much less of an issue than how you sound.

    Seek out other bands and clubs that feature the same kind of music, and network, network, network.

    If there is a campus/community radio station or newspaper in the area, they may also know a bit about "the scene".
  3. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    take out an ad in-

    sorry wrong site..... :eek: :D

    i'll be right back
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just say no?
  5. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Gig, gig and then gig some more. Jam bands are known for some of the most devoted fans, and the way they do it is by touring relentlessly. Book as many shows as you can without getting burned out. The other advice in this thread I agree with 100%. Good luck.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Try to get gigs at venues where other jam bands play. Try to open up for other jam bands. Go to shows by other jam bands and hand out fliers for your shows. Get recordings out to (college) radio DJs who play jam band CDs. Etc.
  7. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I agree with fastplant and everyone else on this thread.

    I have a great deal of experience playing in jam-oriented bands, so I'll add my .02 as well:

    - Do NOT start off playing a bunch of Dead tunes. Contrary to popular myth, jam fans are rather discriminating and would rather hear YOUR stuff. They want to hear what YOU can do and they want something unique, not a rehash of another band's jams. You will bore people to tears if you play "Bertha", trust me - I know this from experience.

    - Don't jam EVERY song out. Make sure and mix things up to the point where you have some 3 & 1/2 minute "quickies", some 6-8 minute mini-jams and some extended jams. While jam heads like to hear extended jams, they, too, get bored if every song drags on for 25 minutes.

    - Create some nice segues from one song to the next. Contrary to popular belief, most jams actually ARE coordinated, to a degree, in advance. Having subtle "signals" that are understood by each band member really help to smooth out the transitions between songs. Once fans start to recognize your stuff, they will love hearing Song A slowly, but efficiently, morph into Song B.

    - Try to write songs that will stand alone WITHOUT jams. In other words, write a 3 & 1/2 minute song that could stand alone on a CD if it had to. People respect song-crafting and it's a lot better to write a jam around a song than it is to write a song around a jam.

    - When ending songs, try not to end every jam with a "Fillmore Ending". Even after a 30-minute jam, go back into the song (unless, of course, you are seguing into another song). This allows the song to remain its overall structure and prevents anti-climatic, "trailing off" endings. Crowds love to hear you jam and then tie it all back together with a "true" ending that includes maybe one final chorus, etc.

    - One of the main keys to the jam itself is dynamics. Don't play a 20 minute jam at the same high level - bring it up and down and vary the mood.

    - Communicate onstage with your bandmates so you know what everyone is doing and so you don't go off into different directions. Listen to what everyone is doing, pick up on the vibe and make it sound like it was "supposed" to go in that direction.

    I love rapping about this stuff, so feel free to PM me of you want to talk further.
  8. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Stop bathing.
  9. Must....buy....pachouli...
  10. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Great advice. I've been in a few jam bands as well, and the signal thing works wonders. You can still keep the free flowing jam, but knowing what the other guys are going to do helps you decide how you're going to play it.
  11. Funkee1


    Jul 19, 2002

    Thanks for your advice. We are all accomplished Jazzers, so we know how to do it. It's just that, after 4 years of trying to exlain us, I started looking into the JAm band scene and found a home!!
    I didn't know much about it, beyond Phish, the Dead, and the Spin Doctors.

    I keep checking into Jambands.com periodically, but I don't see much for SoCal. Can you advise me where I should look for a "scene"? I am thinking Berkeley, CA.
  12. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Well, Berkeley definitely is a good place to check out, as is the Bay area in general.

    LA actually isn't hurting for some solid jam bands, either. Check out Particle, who are from the area.
  13. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002

    Particle are amazing!
  14. andrewd


    Sep 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    moe. is an amazing jam band. check out some of their recent live shows from http://bt.etree.org or www.archive.org

    if youre going to do covers, dont do covers that people would expect a jam band to play (like the dead, phish, etc), although they can be fun once in awhile
  15. Funkee1


    Jul 19, 2002
    We already do covers. We started as a cover band, but we have always had funky breakdowns, quotes of obscure fusion tunes and stuff like that in our covers. When Scott strted writing originals, they were all over the map stylistically, but still grooving. That became our first disc. That was before he Discovered the DMB.

    now, We don't copy DMB, but there is a very DMB-like quality to Scotts writing. I have contributed a heavy reggae- dub thing, too.

    That's when I started looking into the Jam band thing. We always were one, but now, it's official. :hyper:
  16. Being a jam band is one of the only ways to ensure a crowd that will come see you again and again these days. I know there are mailing lists and web forums for southern california jam band fans. Some clubs are renowned for having jam bands, and people will go there no matter who's playing. If you play there, your future fans will hear you. Anywhere several other bands on jambase is playing is the sort of club you want. Like in San Diego, it's Winstons.

    If you're looking to listen to southern california jam bands, Particle is indeed interesting. The Greyboy All-Stars and all their offshoots are tremendous. Robert Walters, Karl Denson, & Zak Najor all play around the area with their various bands.

    All these bands are pretty far removed from The Dead. It has more to do with P-Funk or Herbie Hancock.

    There were also several very good local bands in San Diego, and no doubt there are in LA as well.
  17. my main focus in music in the "jam band scene"

    the scene has really evolved since the days of the Dead

    there are different genres of jam music...

    My band falls inbetween the afrobeat-bluegrass (String Cheese Incident), rocking composed jam (Phish, Umphrey's Mcgee) and trance jam (Disco Biscuits,STS9,Particle)

    so the jam scene is very widespread now a days...

    just improv like there's no tommorrow, change your setlists show to show, and bust out some covers and that seems to put you into the jam scene now a days....
  18. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    Don't mimic any other Jam band in any way. As soon as you do you'll be compared to them. Just do your own thing and remember that it takes a lot of time to build up a fanbase.
  19. as someone who's found himself in the jam band scene, I can echo some of the above sentiments and add a few comments.

    first, yes, promote yourselves relentlessly!! we're always putting up posters, passing out handbills, giving away stickers, doing radio interviews, mailing off press kits, and generally dropping our name left and right.

    second, don't pass up any opportunities to connect with other players or people in the business. just spending a few seconds with whoever wants to talk to you before or after a show (or online) can make all the difference in the world. sure, not every connection will pan out, but you never know which ones will and everyone you turn on to your music is someone on your mailing list who might recommend their friends check you out.

    finally, everyone I have met in the scene -- players, fans, promoters -- has been cool. and I do mean everyone! on our last tour we shared stages with Perpetual Groove and with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. they were some of the nicest cats you'd ever meet. Denson and his crew even put us on the guest list for their show here in New Orleans at the House of Blues -- saved us $100 in ticket expenses!

    I hope that was some help and hope that we get to see you out on the road!

    from the lows,

  20. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Nice, concise advice, Man - thanks!

    I'm printing this one out to bring to my band mates.